May 18, 2011

It's time for the student to become the professor

Mike Tenay needs to be replaced.

Yeah. No beating around the bush with this one. Normally, I deliberate these things for a bit and write long, drawn out explanations for why I feel a certain way, but I see no reason to do that this time.

The many criticisms of the job Tenay does as lead announcer have been well documented and I'm not going to bother listing them all. Instead, I'm going to offer up the most recent one.

Sacrifice. Crimson vs. Abyss. Abyss is having trouble and can't seem to put Crimson away. So what does he do? He goes under the ring and pulls out Janice. Had Jim Ross been announcing this match, he would have either become very hushed and quiet to sell the dread of what Abyss was about to do, or he would have been yelling for the match to be stopped and pleading for security to do something before Abyss committed @#$%ing murder in the ring. Either reaction would have been infinitely better than what Mike Tenay did, which is NOT react. At all.

When Abyss pulled out Janice, Tenay chose to respond by continuing right along with his monotone voice and complete lack of anything even resembling emotion, as if the use of a damn tetsubo in a wrestling match was a perfectly normal, every day occurrence! FTR, this is the same way he announces everything else. And as bad as this was, the sad part is that it was better than the alternative, because the only thing worse than Mike Tenay not acting is Mike Tenay trying to act.

This is not an isolated incident. Tenay has had this problem for years and he's just never gotten any better. He just comes off as cold and utterly lifeless. God help you try to get an honest emotional reaction out of him because he just doesn't show them. He doesn't show excitement, he doesn't show dread, he doesn't show anger, he doesn't show ANYTHING. And when he actually tries to show these things he comes off as completely fake and over the top with his comically exaggerated facial expressions and insincere tone of voice -- almost as if his brain lacks the software to process genuine human emotion.

This is why Tenay needs to be replaced. Because TNA/iMPACT Wrestling shouldn't have their product announced by a damn robot.

Hell, even good ol' JR himself has said that Tenay lacks the instincts it takes to be a great announcer. How much more proof does anyone need?

This problem wasn't as obvious when Tenay was paired with Don West because West was great in the areas where Tenay lacked. West had personality. When West got excited, you believed he was excited; the guy is just a much better actor than Tenay has ever been. What's more, much like Jim Ross, West had the innate ability to make whatever was happening on the show seem more important than it really was because he could sell it at easily as he sells T-shirts. Why do you think that, when they had West turn heel and tear Tenay a new asshole on iMPACT, the crowd cheered for West? Doesn't company management see anything wrong with that?

IMHO, after his heel turn, Don West become the best color commentator in the business. Not only was his heel persona incredibly entertaining, but he would cleverly use it to poke holes in many of the stupid storylines the creative team came up with and tried to explain them to the audience in ways that actually made sense -- like when he theorized that Christopher Daniels put his roster spot on the line at Slammiversary against Shane Douglas when he didn't have to because it was a matter of pride for Daniels. The crazy thing is that West was actually much better at making sense of the storylines than the writers themselves were. This guy was awesome! AND he just happened to have great chemistry with Tenay. Despite Tenay's limitations constantly on full display, these guys played off each other so well that you didn't notice them a lot of the time because West was able to compensate in the areas where Tenay was lacking.

Then management replaced West with Taz. I guess I can kind of see why. Taz is a "name" and he had done really strong color commentary in the past, and from what I hear, West is making the company a lot of money in his new role in the merchandising department. But it's been well over a year of this new announce team and it just hasn't clicked at all. I'm not sure what the reason is, but Taz has just not been able to recapture that magic he used to have back when he was announcing Smackdown. But the bigger problem is that him and Tenay just flat out DO NOT work well together.

From day one these 2 have never gelled the way Tenay & West did, with the chemistry between them feeling forced and awkward at the best of times. While West managed to be an excellent cover for Tenay's flaws, Taz only seems to exacerbate them. Maybe it comes down to different styles or a simple personality clash; I don't know. But some announce teams just don't play off each other well, and Tenay & Taz just don't.

One need only watch a single episode of Xplosion to see that Jeremy Borash gels with Taz far better than Tenay does. What's more, a few months back a match from one of the live events was taped and aired on Xplosion, announced by JB & West, and as it turned out, they worked together far better than Tenay & Taz do as well. And the clincher is the man still seems as excited about the product as he was when the Asylum opened its doors on that first night. You can't say the same about Mike Tenay.

Tenay was almost certainly the best choice for lead announcer when this company started. Options were probably limited, he was an old pro at the job and a recognizable face from WCW, and they needed all the recognizability they could get at the time. But that was 9 years ago. They're way passed that now. It's time for JB to replace Mike Tenay as lead announcer.

I know JB is very valuable in his current position. The man does an insane amount of promotion for the company. Hell, recently he had a few weeks off, and instead of taking some much deserved down time, he flew out to the UK to do a tweet & greet with the fans! The guy is ridiculously dedicated and changing his role in the company would certainly hurt them in that area. But seriously, how much longer is this going to go on for?

As time goes by, Tenay is only getting worse, not better. His complete and utter lack of enthusiasm during TV and PPVs is palpable, and to be brutally honest, the guy is just a huge freaking buzzkill.

I don't know what else I can say to iterate my position here, but TNA/iMPACT Wrestling has reached the point where Mike Tenay has stopped enhancing the product and has begun hurting it. The time has come to move him to a backstage role.

JB is ready. Give him a shot in the announce booth.

Or at the very least, get Don West back in there.

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